For everyone From your branch secretary: Why Grow?

Erin Aulich, Secretary, AEU Victorian branch

The bigger your sub-branch, the more power you have to have a say in your workplace structures and policies.

Throughout the first month of term, we visited more than 250 workplaces to talk to members, get involved in inductions for new staff, and invite non-members to join the AEU. Unions are all about strength in numbers – and the larger your sub-branch, the more power you have to have a say in workplace structures and policies, and to ensure staff entitlements are properly implemented.

At the branch level, the bigger our union, the better our capacity to provide the expert training, advice, and support, including the legal representation, our members need. The bigger our union, the greater our chance of improving members’ pay and conditions, your professional standing in the wider community, and our influence on political issues, especially the value of public education.

A union is the only collective way of protecting and advancing the rights of employees. Without a union, how do you improve your working life, and where do you turn when things go wrong?

The AEU is one of the largest and most powerful unions in Australia. Nationally, we represent more than 185,000 teachers, principals, and education support staff. Those who haven’t had much to do with the AEU, or unions in general, don’t realise that every entitlement in their enterprise agreements was hard fought for and won by you – their union-member colleagues.

Right now, we are running a protected action ballot in the TAFE sector. It is crucial that we build membership to strengthen our campaign for better pay and conditions for our hard-working TAFE members. All TAFE teachers need to join the AEU so they can participate in industrial action and force the government to listen.

In early childhood, where we have strong benchmark agreements in the VECTEA and the EEEA, there are still too many early childhood teachers and educators whose agreements need to be brought up to the standard. Gaining new members always starts with a conversation about what the AEU is and does. Let new staff members or non-union colleagues know why you are a member of the AEU, and then invite them to join.

We want all reps to know your entitlements and to ensure members access these rights.

We have a new reps training course in 2024. This course is being offered online and in person at the AEU Abbotsford building, and in a variety of outer metro and regional locations.

The VGSA allows school teachers and ES reps to attend up to five days of union training in any given year (or 10 days over two years). The AEU also offers teacher/ES replacement costs where your workplace has employed a CRT, educator, or casual ES to cover you for the training period. This is how much we want all reps across the state to know your entitlements and to feel empowered to work with their sub-branch to ensure members access these rights. Our training will give reps the skills and knowledge on how these entitlements should be implemented in the workplace, how to establish and strengthen consultation arrangements, and how to activate your sub-branch and grow AEU membership.

Our new one-day reps course is now up and running for schools, early childhood, and TAFE in metro, outer metro and regional locations. Reps training will be open to members who hold key positions in their sub-branch, such as sub-branch president, secretary, treasurer, ES Rep, Women’s Officer in the Workplace (WOW), and consultative committee reps.

Even if you’ve participated in training before, we encourage you to undertake this new course. This training provides AEU reps with a fantastic opportunity to meet other reps and hear more about the issues common to members across the state. You will explore key entitlements in your agreement, and develop an understanding of the bargaining processes.

This course also gives members the language to explain the role of the union and the significance of union membership throughout history. This is an important message across all of our sectors.

As humans, we know the power of storytelling. We all respond to the lived experience. Why did you join and what does union membership mean to you? For a more powerful union tomorrow, tell your colleagues your story today.

Click to register for the new reps training course. The aim is to support you to feel confident about empowering and growing your union sub-branch.

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